Spanish Cucumbers Blamed for German E.Coli Outbreak, Two Deaths

German health authorities traced a national outbreak of E.coli that has killed two people and infected 274 others to imports of Spanish cucumbers.

Hamburg’s Institute for Hygiene and Health detected the bacterium in probes of cucumbers imported from Spain, the Hamburg government said on its website. Wholesalers and retailers including Metro AG (MEO) and Rewe Group have taken Spanish cucumbers off shelves, the companies said.

The European Commission said in a statement that two batches of organic cucumbers from Spain have been identified as sources of the outbreak, and a batch from the Netherlands is also being investigated. It said a total of 18 cases of infection have also occurred in Sweden, Denmark, the U.K. and the Netherlands.

The regional government of Andalusia, where the Spanish producers are located, has taken measures to stop the sale of products from the lots that were identified, Spain’s Health Ministry said in an e-mailed statement. The ministry said the information it received didn’t clarify if the origin of the problem could be in the handling of the produce. It didn’t identify the companies.

Spain is Europe’s biggest food exporter, selling 190,000 tons of cucumbers to Germany last year, the Financial Times Deutschland reported today.

Germany’s Robert Koch Institute said today on its website that 276 people have been infected, with two fatalities. There have been no cases of the infection in Spain, and “the consumption of this vegetable should continue as usual, with the normal precautions,” the ministry said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Holger Elfes in Dusseldorf at helfes@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Celeste Perri at cperri@bloomberg.net.

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